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WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at how Maine’s members of Congress voted over the previous week.
Along with roll call votes, the House also passed these measures: the Securing America’s Ports Act (H.R. 5273) to require the Homeland Security secretary to develop a plan to increase to 100 percent the rates of scanning of commercial and passenger vehicles entering the United States at land ports of entry; the Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Drones and Emerging Threats Act (H.R. 4432) to require the Department of Homeland Security to prepare a terrorism threat assessment relating to unmanned aircraft systems; and the Drone Origin Security Enhancement Act (H.R. 4753) to prohibit the Homeland Security secretary from operating or procuring foreign-made unmanned aircraft systems.
House vote 1
AID TO PUERTO RICO: The House has passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief and Puerto Rico Disaster Tax Relief Act (H.R. 5687), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-New York. The bill would provide $4.67 billion to Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories for spending related to disaster recovery, and also expand the number of tax credits available for residents of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
Lowey said it sought to “provide families and communities swift relief and put Puerto Rico on the path to long-term recovery.”
A bill opponent, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said the tax credits were unnecessary and would cost more than $16 billion, while the $4.67 billion of aid was premature because Puerto Rico still had substantial available unspent funds from past disaster recovery legislation.
The vote, on Feb. 7, was 237 yeas to 161 nays. U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, and Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine’s 2nd District, were among the yeas.
House vote 2
WOMEN’S HISTORY MUSEUM: The House has passed the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act (H.R. 1980), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York. The bill would establish at the Smithsonian Institution a council charged with recommending a site for building a women’s history museum in Washington, D.C.
Maloney said the museum “is an American issue recognizing the contributions of our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters.
This is about giving all women our rightful place in history.” The vote, on Feb. 11, was 374 yeas to 37 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 3
CHILDREN AND HOMELAND SECURITY: The House has passed the Homeland Security for Children Act (H.R. 2932), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., D-New Jersey, to require the Homeland Security Department to account for the needs of children in the development of its programs and policies.
A supporter, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-New Mexico, said: “As the threats to our homeland continue to evolve, it is important that we be prepared to adequately assist every child at every age.”
The vote, on Feb. 10, was 374 yeas to 11 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 4
HOMELAND SECURITY ACQUISITIONS: The House has passed the DHS Acquisition Reform Act (H.R. 3413), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, to modify acquisition management programs at the Homeland Security Department.
Crenshaw said the changes, by correcting problems in Homeland Security’s spending, “goes a long way to correct some of the current shortfalls in the acquisition process, which will help ensure we are being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and protecting the integrity of these programs.”
The vote, on Feb. 10, was 380 yeas to 4 nays. Pingree did not cast a vote, and Golden was among the yeas.
House vote 5
FEDERAL WILDERNESS LANDS: The House has passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, to designate close to 1.4 million acres of federal government land in western states as wilderness, with resulting restrictions on human use of the land.
DeGette said the designations “will help protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. They will help protect wildlife and some of our favorite, world-class recreation areas.”
A bill opponent, U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, said the federal government was already unable to adequately manage its existing wilderness lands.
The vote, on Feb. 12, was 231 yeas to 183 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
House vote 6
EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT: The House has passed a resolution (H.J. Res. 79) sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, to eliminate the time deadline for ratification by the states of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex.
Speier said: “The ERA is about equality. The ERA is about sisterhood, motherhood, survival, dignity, and respect.”
An opponent, U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Arizona, said the amendment was unnecessary because the Constitution already recognized women’s equality of rights, and “many federal, state, and local laws already prohibit sex discrimination.”
The vote, on Feb. 13, was 232 yeas to 183 nays. Pingree and Golden were among the yeas.
Senate vote 1
APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Andrew Lynn Brasher to serve as a judge on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Brasher has been a U.S. district court judge in Alabama since May 2019; previously, he was Alabama’s solicitor general from 2014 to 2019, and a private practice lawyer in Birmingham.
A supporter, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said: “I have the utmost regard for his vast legal ability and his commitment to the rule of law, and I believe he is well suited for this respected position.”
An opponent, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said that in his time as Alabama’s solicitor general, Brasher “worked on controversial efforts to restrict voting rights, limit reproductive rights, and undermine gun safety laws.”
The vote, on Feb. 11, was 52 yeas to 43 nays. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, was among the yeas, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, was among the nays.
Senate vote 2
ALASKA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Joshua M. Kindred to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the Alaska district. Kindred was an Alaska state prosecutor from 2008 to 2013, counsel at the Alaska Oil and Gas Association from 2013 to 2018 and since 2018 has been a regional solicitor at the Interior Department.
A supporter, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, praised Kindred for “his fierce commitment to upholding the law, the concept of equal access to justice for all, and his keen awareness of Alaska’s unique legal landscape.”
The vote, on Feb. 12, was 54 yeas to 41 nays. Collins was among the yeas, and King was among the nays.
Senate vote 3
MISSOURI DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Matthew Thomas Schelp to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the eastern district of Missouri. Schelp has been a private practice lawyer in St. Louis since 2010; from 2001 to 2010, he was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office for the eastern district.
The vote, on Feb. 12, was 72 yeas to 23 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 4
ILLINOIS DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of John Fitzgerald Kness to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the northern district of Illinois. Kness has been general counsel at the College of DuPage in suburban Chicago since 2016. Before that, he was a prosecutor in the northern district and a private practice attorney in Chicago.
A supporter, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, praised Kness as “diligent, thoughtful, and principled.”
The vote, on Feb. 12, was 81 yeas to 12 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 5
NEW YORK DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Philip M. Halpern to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the southern district of New York. Halpern has been a private practice lawyer near New York City since 1984.
The vote, on Feb. 12, was 77 yeas to 19 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 6
TERRORISM AND MILITARY FORCE: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, to a resolution (S.J. Res. 68) on a potential war with Iran. The amendment would have exempted military force against designated terrorist organizations from the resolution’s requirement that Congress give authority for force against Iran.
Cotton said the exemption was needed to state authority for action against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for helping kill hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
An opponent, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, said the exemption would set the “very dangerous precedent” of allowing action against all designated foreign terrorist organizations without declaring war against them.
The vote to table, on Feb. 13, was 54 yeas to 46 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 7
DIPLOMACY AGAINST IRAN: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, to a resolution (S.J. Res. 68) on a potential war with Iran. The amendment would have added to the resolution findings that the U.S. is not now engaged in military hostilities against Iran, and that the Trump administration’s strategy of applying maximum pressure against Iran has reduced Iran’s ability to fund terrorism and proxy groups in Middle East conflicts.
The vote to table, on Feb. 13, was 54 yeas to 46 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.
Senate vote 8
CONFLICT WITH IRAN: The Senate has passed a resolution (S.J. Res. 68), sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, to prevent the use of military force against Iran in the absence of a declaration of war by Congress or specific legal authorization from Congress.
Kaine said it was needed “to make sure that Congress is involved in decisions about war.”
An opponent, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, said: “The Iranians will interpret a vote in favor of this resolution as tying the president’s hands, and that would lead Iran to believe, once again, that it can get by with anything.”
The vote, on Feb. 13, was 55 yeas to 45 nays. Collins and King were among the yeas.